by Kelly Davis
Did you participate in the traditional New Year's Day meal?
In my family, this involves some type of pork (either pork chops or pork tenderloin), black eyed peas, and collard greens. Each of these dishes have a specific meaning associated with them. Pork is for health, black eyed peas are for good luck and also symbolize change or coins, and the collard greens are for wealth and symbolize cash.
Eating these foods on New Year's Day is supposed to bring you what they symbolize in the new year: health, good luck and wealth.
But I have one small problem: I don't like black eyed peas.
Thank goodness my grandmother also makes macaroni and cheese and pinto beans, which have absolutely no significance, except they're delicious and supplement the meal for those of us who don't love the New Year's trifecta.
But I did recently discover a way to eat black eyed peas that I actually like. Strike that. I actually love this soup.
The flavor of the fennel in this soup is so complimentary to the black eyed peas. For those of you who aren't familiar, fennel is often used to flavor sausage so the taste of fennel is usually associated with something meaty. Go figure that this soup is completely vegan.
VEGAN BLACK EYED PEA AND FENNEL SOUP (Serves 6)
This creamy vegan soup is healthy and warms the soul. If you've never liked black eyed peas or are just not a fan, like me, I dare you to give it a try.
2 cups dried black eyed peas
4 cups + 6 cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 fennel bulb and the stalk, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup fennel herb, chopped finely
Cook black eyed peas and 4 cups of water in a crockpot on low for at least 8 hours. Once cooked, drain water from beans and add 6 cups of clean water and the bouillon cub.
Warm olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add fennel bulb and stalk, carrots, and garlic. Cook until vegetables are soft, then add to the crockpot of beans. Stir in spices and fennel herb. Allow to cook on low for another 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Puree in a blender in batches or with an immersion blender until smooth.
This recipe takes a long time, but is very hands-off because the crockpot does all the work. Many people complain to me about not being able to get dried beans soft enough when they cook them, but the crockpot is the secret to perfect, made-from-scratch beans/legumes every single time.
I topped this soup with Greek yogurt, which obviously made this soup vegetarian, not vegan.
Kelly Davis is a blogger, freelance writer, food enthusiast, and native North Carolinian. When she's not training for a race or cooking something delicious in the kitchen, she's writing, reading, snuggling her dachshund, or plotting her next project. You can keep up with Kelly's antics and recipes on her blog, Foodie Fresh.